Monday, September 11, 2017

2017 Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3 Race Results

Braden Currie and Ben Hoffman recover after their sprint finish across the sand
Mother nature complicated the swim portion of today’s Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz triathlon event, a planned 1.2 mile swim at Cowell Beach, 56 mile bike north along Highway 1 and 21.1 mile run taking in West Cliff Drive and Wilder Ranch State Park. Earlier in the week the red tide, which swept in and created pollution concerns in the Cowell Beach area, had rumors circulating of a cancelled swim, or at the very least a change of location. Then on the day of the event, as the wetsuited athletes began amassing on the beach for the early morning start, they were greeted by a thick fog that sat over the swim area making the buoys used for sighting almost impossible to see. There was a delay while organizers hurriedly adjusted the course, shortening it so the buoys were closer together and adjusting the swim course closer to shore. Strong swimmers were disappointed to learn the swim was now about a third of the distance originally planned.

The drama was managed by experienced race director, Tom Cotton, who has been officiating the race for 15 years. While essentially the same course, the race has grown by over 1000 participants from when it was known as “The Big Kahuna” triathlon. The major change came in 2015 when the Ironman brand, which is associated with the mythical Ironman World Championship in Hawaii and owned by a Chinese investment firm, bought the event. Cotton stayed on as race director. “It’s kinda nice having a crew come in and help me out. Whereas before it was just my wife and I putting on the race for many years with 15 people. Now it’s 30-35 people coming in to organize” said Cotton.

Having an event officially associated with the Ironman brand brings additional marketing resources and is an extra pull for triathletes all over the country and world. It’s not uncommon for athletes, after completing a half Ironman or Ironman event to get tattoos of the “M-dot” Ironman logo on their bodies, such is the enthusiasm for the races.

The event’s new status as an Ironman branded event has also brought a professional prize money purse to what was previously an amateur only event. The rewards are still comparatively modest in comparison with other professional sports however with $25,000 prize pool spread across male and female top place getters. Many of the pros travelling from interstate or overseas stayed with members of the Santa Cruz Triathlon Association, who opened their homes to elites for a few days around time of the event, so the athletes could save on accommodation expenses.

When the pro male wave finally took off about an hour after the planned start, the leaders predictably stayed in close contact given the short time in the water. German Andi Boecherer leapt off the front of the pack on the bike and by the end of the 56 miles had amassed a 4:20 minute advantage. A tight knit group of three composed of Americans Tim O’Donnell, Ben Hoffman and New Zealander Braden Currie set off weaving down Westcliff Drive in pursuit. The trio was able to reel in the German and O’Donnell dropped off the pace leaving a dramatic two man sprint finish down past the Dream Inn and onto the soft sand to the finish line on Cowell Beach. Currie, in a total time of 3:33:57, narrowly bested Hoffman (3:33:58) by one second for the win. O’Donnell came in third at 3:35:31. “I was actually quite excited to have a good running race. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to be here to test my run and to race Ben and to race Tim. I know those guys are such solid athletes.” said the satisfied Kiwi.

The women’s pro race played out differently with the top seven women rolling into the bike-to-run transition within two minutes of each other. All in contention for the win, that group included British 2012 Ironman 70.3 and World Champion Leanda Cave and American Ironman record holder Linsey Corbin. But it was Liz Lyles who was able to hold her slender lead off the bike to build a winning gap to finish in 4:08:24 defeating Linsey Corbin (4:09:39) with Kelsey Withrow (4:11:28) in third for an American clean sweep.

“I loved the course. It’s my first time racing here. A little disappointed about the swim being shortened but at least we got to get in.” said Lyles.

Lyles will now focus on the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in five weeks time as will many of the Pros who competed today and use the Santa Cruz half distance race as a tune up.

The bulk of the field, consisting of some 2000 amateur triathletes, filed their way into the Pacific for the abridged swim soon after the pros set off. While the fog had caused trouble for the swim, it made for comfortable conditions for the land portion of the event. With no prize money on the line, the motivation to compete varies for competitors who part with over $300 for the entry fee, not to mention the associated costs of equipment and getting to the start line.

Top local finisher, Julian Sunn, who lives a few blocks away from the race start in the Beach Hill neighborhood, finished second in his 30-34 year old age group in a time of 4:04:23.

“Triathlon is a great challenge and gives my life purpose by giving me something to really focus on. The camaraderie around the sport has brought me all different friendships and connections. It’s not just about the times and podiums.”

Sunn dedicates on average 15 hours a week to training around his full-time job as a Research Scientist at a local biotech company.

Top local female finisher was Santa Cruzan Molly Supple who finished 12th in the female pro field in a time of 4:27:50 and is an employee at the Morgan Hill based bicycle manufacturer, Specialized Bicycle Components.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ironman triathlon announce new flexible order rule

As part of Ironman's ongoing race development and improvements a new flexible order rule has been announced for all Ironman branded events effective immediately. Hot on the heels of the rolling start initiative, which allows athletes to start whenever they like, competitors will now be able to choose the order they complete the three sports that compose a triathlon.

The idea grew from concerns, first voiced on social media, that the marathon is always held during the hottest part of the day. Many, including the fast growing millennial demographic, felt that was a bit too hard. After effectively killing head-to-head competition with the rolling start, it was a natural next step for organizers to allow competitors to choose for themselves what order they complete the swim, bike and run.

"Just because some mustachioed hippie in the late 70s thought it should be swim, then bike, then run, doesn't mean it has to always be that way", explained Ironman CEO Andrew Hawtmessick. "Many of our customers prefer to finish with a cooling swim and get the marathon out of the way early. We're responding to a need."

The new flexible order rule did cause some consternation among the coaching fraternity. "All the coaching courses we take keep harping on the challenge of running off the bike," complained Dutch national coach, Faarten Mearings. "If our athletes choose not to do the run after the bike, what are we supposed to do with the "brick" workout?"

According to Ironman, however, the athlete response has been positive overall. Most of the questions received to their offices since the announcement are on whether or not the new rules will effect plans to get Iroman tattoos or stick 140.6 stickers to their cars.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Three Quick Swim Stroke Fixes

1. Body Position


Legs and bottom too low in the water creating frontal drag


Kick with your arms by your side with your body horizontal at the surface of the water then add your arms half way down the pool.



You should feel the breeze on your butt is it's in the right position.

2. Catch


Elbow is too low in the first phase of your pull (called the catch) resulting in less power through the front of the stroke.


Practice the sculling drill which puts your elbow in the right position (high and pointing up). Try and replicate that arm position in the first part of your pull through.


3. Rotation


It's easier to get in the correct catch position if you're rotating your body at the hips with each stroke instead of swimming flat on your belly.


Try the Switch drill to get used to rolling from side to side. Gradually reduce the number of kicks you do on each side until you're swimming normally with a nice rotation.



Visualize reaching over a barrel with each stroke. This will help you to keep your elbows high and turning your shoulders to maximize your reach.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Triathlete's Guide to Anti-Trump Consuming

Triathletes buy a lot of stuff. Some triathletes don't like Trump. I'm not sure exactly of the statistics on that one but triathlons lend themselves to doing plenty of travel and an appreciation of different countries and cultures. Triathletes also enjoy a protected natural environment and clean air.

Here's a guide on products and brands you might want to support or avoid if you're not on the Trump train.


Under Armour

CEO is a real Trump fan! He has described Trump as "an asset to the country" and has even implied support for the wall. Under Armour makes shoes, running apparel and sports bras and have in the past made triathlon shorts. They are a major sponsor of Australian Ironman champ Chris McCormick.


A popular fitness tracking app (you might know it as MapMyRun or MapMy Ride) was acquired by Under Armour in 2013. You might want to delete your account and app and use the (also much better IMHO) Strava instead.

New Balance

You might train in New Balance shoes and wear their running shorts and socks. This one is a bit more of a grey area. New Balance started the controversy in November 2016 when they supported Trump's proposal to tear up the Trans Pacific Partnership (as they have U.S. based factories). It was taken by some as an endorsement of Trump and wasn't helped when a white supremacist website site voiced their support.


Often travelling to destination events far from home, travel is always a big expense for triathletes. Obviously you won't be staying in a Trump hotel but you also want to avoid his new cheaper option, Scion Hotels.

Amazon, Zappos

If you shop online for a pair of shoes or a GPS watch, you might want to avoid these two that still sell Ivanka and Trump products. 


Nordstrom Rack

You've probably heard of Trump and Kellyanne Conway calling out Nordstrom for dumping Ivanka Trump's clothing line. But wait, what has Nordstrom got to do with triathletes? I can attest personally to have bought quality brand name running shoes from there for a steal! I've also seen running shirts and shorts.

Athleta, Patagonia, REI, Arc'teryx

The #grabyourwallet campaign started this consumer resistance campaign and has been responsible for many companies pulling Trump related products off their shelves. 100% Trump free retailers, that carry brands and equipment popular with triathletes, are on that list. Patagonia and Arc'teryx have also been pushing back hard on Trump's anti-environment policies and both have some great trail running gear.

Update 2/10 - Skinfit CEO want you to know they are Trump safe to buy via this tweet .

Would love to hear from readers if you know of any tri related brands that have made a stand for or against Trump and I will update this blog.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Race Ratings - Woodside 50K 2017 - Woodside, CA

Seasoned ultra-runner Adam Blum reviews the Woodside 50K. An early season hit out for him. He placed 3rd of the 50+ age group despite a wrong turn. Results.
Photo Credit: Chasqui Runner
Woodside 50K - Woodside, CA. January 1, 2017 (reviewer: Adam Blum)

Overall - ★★★★☆
A true Bay area classic and one which I have run various distances on over the past 13 years.

Registration - ★★★★★
$80. Keeps it under my rule of thumb of no more than $3 per mile.  It's also on UltraSignup.  Doesn’t get much easier.

Swag - ★★★★☆
Nice ceramic coaster for finishing the ultra. Really nice tech T-shirt.  Upgrade over old PCTR shirt.

Course - ★★★★☆
Huddart and Wunderlich Parks are amazingly beautiful and lush.The course is however quite a bit short. Friends finished in under 29 miles.  I did over 50K for at least a couple extra miles. Although I have done this race several times I still missed the last turn to the finish as the turn ribbon was obscured by a car. The guy in front of me (I was chasing down the #2 50+ guy) said at the end that he almost missed the turn but his spectating girlfriend directed him the right way.

Post-Race Feed - ★★★★★
Sliders and soup bar.  Beer. Doesn’t really get much better. Way to go RD. Maybe some craft brews next time? But that’s really quibbling.

Prizes / Results - ★★★★☆
Bottle opener for placing third in age group. Nice. Results were online after a day.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Bollé The One Premium Helmet

Guess what? Bollé, renowed sunglasses manufacturer, turns out helmets too. Makes sense. In the case of many time trial helmets now sunglasses are integrated completely.

The first noticeable thing is the lack of vents. Until you realize the two panels easily detach and it becomes a fully ventilated helmet. That's not the only interesting knick-knack. There's an inner winter shell, and detachable safety light and a mountain bike visor.

Other than that it didn't seem more or less comfortable or aerodynamic than others I've tried but thanks to the add-on it's a winner for versatility. MSRP $169.99.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

TriLog Triathlon Training Diary 2017 Now Available

For years my athletes have received their training plans and tracked their workouts using the TriLog. It provides an easy-to-use weekly overview of your training allowing you to input swim, bike, run distances and times. Sharing it with your coach, you can give further detail on your training, physical and mental health so they can better understand your fitness.

See this video to explore all the features.

To be sent a free download subscribe below and you'll be sent a link in the confirmation email to TriLog which you can then copy and personalize as your own.